The Inner Harbour causeway is in a state of disrepair.
Victoria council, sitting as committee of the whole, recommended approval Thursday for a heritage alteration permit to allow the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to repair the damaged path, saying it is a safety hazard for pedestrians. The blue quartzite tiles are cracked and broken, and the mushroom lights are dented, their bases rusted. The Harbour Authority wants to replace the tiles with stamped concrete matching the pattern and colour of the existing tile, as well as refurbish the lights.
While the repairs were deemed necessary for safety, council indicated the changes were not an appropriate long-term solution for a heritage site. Approval came pending a commitment from the Harbour Authority that the stamped concrete would be a temporary fix.
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority wants to repair this tiled area along the causeway at the Inner Harbour, because it is a tripping hazard. Some tiles lift up easily #yyj pic.twitter.com/cs4YIziRbD
— Lauren Boothby (@laurby) November 24, 2017
Coun. Pamela Madoff said she had a difficult time deciding how to vote, weighing public safety with protecting the heritage quality of the property.
“All of the materials there are kind of high-end materials, because it’s our face to the world. It’s the Inner Harbour,” she said. “We understand there is a safety issue, but we need to be stewards of the long-term future.”
The changes needed, Madoff added, are more than a surface improvement.
“When you look at the report, it shows that they’re probably going to have to deal with a much more significant intervention there because the seating of the concrete and rebar underneath looks like it was not done in an adequate way,” she said. “Even if they put a permanent material down there now, it would probably fail as well until they do the infrastructure work.”
Harbour Authority project manager Simon Renvoize said there have been ongoing problems with the causeway, built in the 1970s.
“We have been carrying out these repairs for many years, and it’s got to a point where it’s a bit of a patchwork quilt. We want to do something a little bit more substantial,” he said.
Parts of the pathway have held up over time, but others have deteriorated. But the quartzite tiles, made in Norway, are difficult to find. Many are cracked and broken and are beyond repair, he said.